Portsmouth Season Preview 2013/2014

Last updated : 01 August 2013 By Jim Bonner

The anticipation amongst Pompey fans for the 2013/2014 League Two season is probably as great as it was ten years ago when our football club was about to embark on a Premier League adventure.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our prospects ahead of Saturday's opening game. The club is no longer in administration and the shadow cast by Portpin's ownership has now disappeared.

Guy Whittingham recruited early in the summer and the new-look team actually had a full pre-season to prepare for the upcoming campaign. The results may have been mixed but there were some positive performances and the suggestion that fans can look forward to some attractive football in what can be a dire division is a big plus.

Basically, this should be our most enjoyable season since the FA Cup winning campaign of 2007/2008. Nearly everyone expects the team to do well and challenge for promotion but it may be wise to rein in those expectations a little.

In this author's opinion there are other clubs better equipped to make a challenge for automatic promotion than Pompey, despite our team being the red-hot favourites with the bookies.

Chesterfield's form took a massive upturn in the second half of last season and they have recruited well. Likewise, Bristol Rovers enjoyed their post-Christmas season and in John Ward have a manager who knows League Two inside out.

Rochdale are set to do well under Keith Hill, the manager who almost got them promoted from League One a few years ago whilst Fleetwood have again splashed the cash to try and buy promotion.

Oxford United are another team that might do very well if their signings pay off whilst Cheltenham, Burton and Northampton can't be discounted after missing out on promotion via the play-offs last season.

Looking at things objectively, Pompey have no money to spend on players and Whittingham is a rookie manager who probably doesn't know League Two like many of his counterparts.

And whilst our first eleven looks strong on paper, an injury to a key player or two could change the course of the entire season.

There is also the fear that teams are going to come to Fratton Park and park the proverbial bus to frustrate and play for a negative, dismal draw against the biggest fish in the small swamp that is League Two.

Despite the possible negatives we may have to endure, the positives should be more than enough to ensure a good season.

Agyemang and Connolly should work together extremely well in this division and even though Craddock failed to impress many during pre-season, he should bang in a few goals too.

It seems like Jed Wallace will stay for the time being and he should hit double figures for the season, the wingers look like they've got some pace and skill to open up defences whilst Ertl and Ferry should make for an excellent "engine room" in the centre of the park.

Judging by pre-season performances the defence still concerns me as a unit. Whilst Devera and Bradley are built for the physical nature of League Two they are not the most mobile of players and may struggle with pace.

The full backs have potential but seem to lack positional sense and are also error prone. There is no doubt that Dan Butler will get better but whether Yassin Moutaouakil or Danny East will make the right back spot their own is anyone's guess.

It looks like John Sullivan is going to be Whittingham's first choice goalkeeper to continue his philosophy of developing young players. He looks like a good shot stopper who likes to be vocal with his defenders but his catching lets him down at the moment.

Speaking of young players, this is a massive season for Adam Webster and Ashley Harris. If they cannot make an impact on the team in the bottom division of English football then they never will. It'll be interesting to see how the likes of Jack Maloney and Nick Awford develop during the course of the season.

Personally, I would bite your hand off if automatic promotion was offered right now. However, this team should be capable of acheiving a play-off place and that will be a successful season for me.

Finally, it'll be novel to visit so many new stadiums (and revisit some of the worst English football has to offer) this season. More than half of the grounds in League Two have not been visited by Pompey fans yet and so taking so many supporters to these smaller stadiums should be good fun.

Play up Pompey!